Our adventure in
financial independence started almost three decades ago.
We were 38 years old and
full of energy for whatever came our way. Over these last many years we have had
more experiences and challenges than we can mention, but suffice it to say:
We’re still here.
We have just cut
a new notch on the pole of life. What is it about turning 65? Did somebody
remove some of the sand out of the hourglass? We aren’t even close to finishing
our journeys to new cultures and countries and sometimes we feel that time is
Do it while you’re
This is the advice I
received from retirees back in the ‘80s when I was managing their money at Dean
Witter Reynolds. They would come into my office and tell me tales of their
latest cruise around the Caribbean, an excursion through Europe or an outing on
the links as I sat there trapped behind my desk. My mind would race trying to
figure out how we, too, could live this lifestyle.
Billy and Akaisha, Not
ready to push the daisies up yet!
And here we are,
decades later, living a life that most will only dream of, even though for many
it is within their grasp.
Climbing an active volcano in
Guatemala with rocks spitting out of its throat was one of the dumber
things we have done as adults. But what a view! We cooked dinner each
night for a week from our RV
for 26 people while living on a ranch in northern Montana. Then we watched the
aurora borealis in the evenings, hot air balloons in the early morning light and
rafted wild, white water rivers on hot afternoons. Playing tennis in tropical
Thailand, I was the only English speaker on the court, and Akaisha learned
massage to correct our aches and pains. Then she
volunteered in Mexico to teach the locals the art of Thai massage!
Not all of our journeys
had world-wide glamour. We were honored to provide
End of Life care for Akaisha’s ageing mom and dad and for my own father as well.
Financial independence gave us the time and the ability to choose to do this. Something we
could never have done, had we stayed bound to our jobs.
As a ‘youngster’ in the
brokerage business, I was told: If you work for the next five years like
nobody else will, you can live the rest of your life like nobody else can. I
took that advice to heart. If you are willing to eliminate all of your debt –
even your mortgage, your options will be unlimited. Imagine your lifestyle if
you were not paying off financial obligations each month and all of your income
was yours to save, invest or spend.
Take control of your finances and become your own money manager.
You don't have
to get fancy, but
learn the language of money and the terms that are used in investing. Just by
doing this simple step, you’ll be ahead of the crowd.
The world changes, we
In the years since we
have taken the leap to financial independence, we continue to make major shifts
to our particular lifestyle, evolving it into what it is today. After much
consideration, we became
Car Free in 2009. We liberated ourselves from car
payments, maintenance, insurance and fuel costs. The money we have saved by
making this move allows us to hire private drivers or take taxis to our
destinations, not to mention boats, planes, subways, skyways, or any other sort
of transport available. We maintain our driver’s licenses and are able to rent a
car or drive one when we visit family and friends.
Housing costs are one of
the largest areas of expense in any household. Adding the option of house
sitting has brought comfort to our traveling style and has positively affected
our costs in this category. Visiting countries for long periods of time in
beautiful homes with access to a kitchen and located in a neighborhood
environment is an attractive alternative to living in hotels. Once we
in a house in the historic colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala. “Our” place
was surrounded by three volcanoes, awesome views and came with a five-day-
a-week maid. While we still enjoy the ease of hotels which are walking distance
to restaurants, shops and activities, having the choice of
sitting adds an
enriching flavor and a different perspective to our travels.
The turmoil, fear,
expense and questions about the quality of care that surrounds the delivery of
health care in the U.S. have convinced us to drop our U.S. based health
insurance policy. Among travelers, this is known as “Going
Naked.” It’s a lot
scarier to talk about it and to imagine doing it, than to actually make the
We have been proponents
of medical tourism for years. Excellent and affordable medical service is
available in many of the countries where we travel and we personally have
received quality treatment in Thailand, Mexico and
Guatemala. Due to our
extensive traveling and seeing the caliber of medical care available in foreign
countries firsthand, we are confident of this decision. In our experience, the
only place we feel frightened of becoming ill and needing medical attention is
in the States. Before qualifying for Medicare, we used to purchase a traveler’s policy
covering us for the time we were there.
No doubt there will be
people who will balk at this approach, and clearly this decision is not for
everyone. However, the cost savings on a policy that we were not using is
noticeable and we use those savings to self-insure.
We rode out the
volatility of the markets for the last 25 years, and then realized that as we
age, long term investing is getting shorter for us by the day. It is one thing
to be in our 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s to buy, hold and forget about it. But with
having met another significant age marker, our time on this planet is
limited. Therefore, in this market climate, we have decided to take a proactive
approach, realizingprofits when opportunities
arrive and buying back in at a later time.
Let me state that we are
only actively investing with our IRAs, so there are no tax ramifications and we
still have holdings in SPY, VTI and DVY in non-IRA accounts that are left untouched.
However, avoiding a 15-20% + plunge in the markets in any given year outweigh
any lost opportunity costs.
Our journey through
retirement has been a remarkable experience, and one we intend to continue.
Why not take a
your finances today and survey your resources. You might be closer than you